Across The Extremes: The late period of Beethoven by Diego Agulló

I am hugely impressed by Diego  Agulló’s exploration into Beethoven’s late works.  I have read a few articles on the late Beethoven works and The Grosse Fugue, but this….it is just on another level entirely! Diego explores the meaning of silences in the works, and the relationship between silence of a man who was no longer able to hear,  not only his music but his own voice and other peoples’ voices- how did this affect his work and experiences?


Whoever walks in darkness is less lonely if they sing.

The challenge is not how one´s own life becomes paradoxical but how one´s own contradictions are the gears of a machine appealing enough to still producing harmonic resonances
We usually read about Beethoven´s deafness but it´s not so common to read that Beethoven was speechless. Silence is the language that corresponds to the tragic hero. What does it mean?

Don´t throw away the ladder.

If talking about music is already a difficult task, what makes this task even more difficult in Beethoven´s late period?
In 1770 Beethoven, Hegel and Hölderlin were born.

Is it that art is a way of being in silence? Is music a way of silence? Is it that silence is the language of the artist? Tractatus 7: Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen. But what does Wittgenstein understand by sagen and sprechen? Was Wittgenstein a frustrated musician? Schumann asking himself: Should I become a poet or a musician?
Tractatus 6.522 There are, indeed, things that cannot be put into words. They make themselves manifest. They are what is mystical.

Robert S.Kahn on his book about the Grosse Fuge op. 133 asks what in God´s name is going on here? Why would anyone write something like this? He collects adjectives that have been given to the Grosse Fuge since it was compossed: atonishing, incomprensible, abstruse, bizarre, unharmonious, extravagant, inconsequential, unplayable, surpasses the bounds of musical performance, tiresome, waste of sound, impracticable, cerebral, repellent, unintelligible, impenetrable, pathological eccentricity.

The Grosse Fuge received only three public performances in the seventy five years after it was written.

Adorno perfectly knew that the late period of Beethoven does not permit itself to be spoken about so easily, there is an unusual difficulty in saying precisely what is all about. Beethoven moved house 27 times.
The music of the Beethoven´s late period inhabitates the limits of the world. He not only drew the limits of the language of tonal music but also pushed them and expanded them without going beyond them, without being atonal, This is an example how a musician can undermine a system from inside the system, using tactics, not strategies. Not to suppress tonality but to turn it loose.

Wittgenstein knew that to define the limits of the language is a difficult task, however, this task should be perform from inside the language, never from outside, basically because the outside means the nonsense and only in case you have a ladder. What we cannot speak about, must we play music?
When Beethoven stopped playing on the piano, someone asked him about the meaning of what he had played. Beethoven´s answer was to play again on the piano the same music. Words are only mediations. Stendhal on his book about Rossini wrote: the domain of music begins when we are not able to speak. Is music the limit of language? But which language? which music?


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